Council uses 53m sheets of paper in year

EMPLOYEES at a local authority in Suffolk used a total of 53 million sheets of A4 paper in only one year.Suffolk County Council got through the paper – which equates to 145,000 sheets per day - between 2001 and 2002, despite targets to reduce the amount of waste.

EMPLOYEES at a local authority in Suffolk used a total of 53 million sheets of A4 paper in only one year.

Suffolk County Council got through the paper – which equates to 145,000 sheets per day - between 2001 and 2002, despite targets to reduce the amount of waste.

If collected together the reams of paper would create a huge mountain weighing a total of 265 tonnes.

Cllr Joanna Spicer raised the matter at a full council meeting yesterday and later blasted the authority for the environmental as well as financial impact of the waste.

"They need to get on and take some action as this is costing council taxpayers. Last year there was a rise in Council Tax of more than 18% and what was it for? To buy more paper?"

She added: "53million sheets of paper to me is a staggeringly large amount, particularly as so much communication is done by email now. If the adult population in Suffolk has about 530,000 adults out of a population of about 650,000 you arrive at a figure that the council is producing enough paper in a year for each adult in Suffolk."

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She said that she thought the issue was a matter that would interest readers of the East Anglian Daily Times after it launched the War On Council Waste campaign, which called for a reduction in wasteful expenditure to avoid massive tax rises.

The education department alone used 23 million pieces of paper. The council explained that the huge consumption was due to the fact that it had a clerical role to the governing bodies of 345 schools, as well as 4,650 individual governors, and it had a statutory requirement to provide information annually to parents of about 20,000 children.

The mountain of paper was used despite a target for a 30% waste reduction from council activities between 1999/2000 and 2003/2004. The council now aims to cut the paper used between 2004/5 and 2006/7 from an estimated 30million sheets to 27million.

Cllr Spicer said: "Someone has got to sort out the waste. It is no good setting the target and then wringing your hands when it is not matched.

"It's got to be a real commitment and not about targets and fine words and glossy recycling initiatives. It's got to be real root and branch determination to set a better example to people in Suffolk."

Adria Pittock, the council's corporate waste minimisation officer, said: "Yes the county council is concerned about our consumption of paper.

"We aim to reduce the figure significantly over the next three years. We are introducing a 'desk top' recycling system whereby staff place paper for recycling in a recycled cardboard tray and it is up to them to take that tray when it is full to the recycling point and separate their waste."

At the council's new facilities, Endeavour House, there will not be individual waste bins but instead rubbish will be separated into paper for recycling, plastic and cans, and non-recyclable material.

There will also be a separate waste stream for confidential waste paper, which will go for recycling, a cardboard collection point and a glass bank for recycling.

Before staff take their paper for recycling they are encouraged to use both sides of the paper, to duplex -double side - all printing and to use print preview before they print.

At the meeting yesterday Conservative councillor Stefan Oliver asked environment portfolio holder Julian Swainson if he could explain "how the county council set a target to reduce waste by 10% in 2002-03, but in fact has increased it by more than 30%."

Mr Swainson replied: "The 10% figure was aspirational and I am disappointed at the figures for the county hall complex in Ipswich. Recycling is, however, progressively accounting for large amounts of our waste, although I expect in the short-term the volume of waste will increase as the staff prepares to move from county hall to the new headquarters at Endeavour House."

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